By Sarajean Rudman Ayurveda recognizes three doshas, or humors—vata, pitta, and kapha—that make up our bodily constitutions in different combinations. We each have a unique makeup of these doshas in different quantities. Kapha dosha, a combination of the elements of earth and water, rules the springtime. The main seat of kapha in the body is […]
by Sarajean Rudman Does this sound familiar? The alarm clock rings, and you hit the ground running. You speed through a frenetic morning routine, and on to your rushed commute. At work, you just make it to your first meeting, and then you skip lunch to meet a deadline. Finally, at the end of your work […]
By Sarajean Rudman Kitchari, traditionally made of yellow mung dal and basmati rice, along with digestive spices and ghee, is used as a cleansing and detoxifying food in Ayurveda. This may be a little hard for us to wrap our Western minds around, as we hear more and more about grains being inflammatory and bad for […]
Erin Casperson, Kripalu School of Ayurveda Intern As August rolls on, pitta aggravation is in full force for many of us. The hot, moist/oily, light, spreading, penetrating, and pungent qualities of the summer season have settled into the body and mind for many of us, creating dis-ease. This is especially true if your constitution is […]
Shannon Sexton, guest blogger Coffee: Is it good for you or bad for you? Last month, the New York Times Magazine reported that by drinking moderate amounts of coffee, you may reduce your chances of developing type 2 diabetes, dementia, and certain types of cancer—and even, perhaps, live longer. Yet evidence also suggests that coffee […]
The other day at the end of a vinyasa yoga class I did my usual thing of plopping down and gearing up for Savasana with no blanket or sweater to get warm and cozy. Being in a large, chilly room, I sensed that I might need extra warmth but paid no mind. The teacher, Andrew, prompted us to “Take this time to allow the hard work to land, and nurture your self in resting pose.” Upon hitting the deck and doing my utmost to actually get comfortable—doing a brief body scan to relax myself—I lay there wondering why my need to be self-sufficient had, yet again, left me bare-skinned and frigid, trying to relax my shivering bones into Corpse pose.
Being somewhat small in stature, and a good-natured vata/pitta, my tendency is to be high energy and cold most of the time. Andrew started to walk around the room, his soothing voice gently guiding the group into a restful state, and asked anyone who might want a blanket to raise their hand. I pondered his offer and observed myself as I refused to raise my hand, even though I was chilly and unable to settle comfortably into Savasana.
Yoga and Ayurveda are two “sister” practices that originated in India thousands of years ago. Now, a lot of us are familiar with yoga, and have experienced firsthand—through postures, breathwork, and self-inquiry—its profound benefits. Yet many of us are not as familiar with Ayurveda. We might have heard about it in conjunction with yoga, but are not quite sure how, exactly. In her R&R retreat workshop Yoga and Ayurveda, Senior Kripalu Yoga teacher Jurian Hughes points out that yoga means union in Sanskrit, and a definition of Ayurveda is the wisdom of life. Explored together, these complementary practices can offer us transformative tools that foster greater health and vitality. And as Jurian also explains, integrating Ayurvedic principles into your yoga practice can create a deeper, richer experience on the mat that you can take with you off the mat as well.
“Ayurveda isn’t a one-size-fits-all philosophy,” Jurian says. “We’re constantly in flux throughout the day: our energy level and our mood, for example, are different first thing in the morning than they are at noon.” Ayurveda, then, is a personalized, intuitive health philosophy. According to Ayurvedic principles, each of us has a unique constitution governed by our physical and emotional makeup, as well as our lifestyle—the foods we eat, what time we go to sleep. These constitutions are called doshas, and they are linked to the elements. The doshas are vata (air and ether), pitta (fire and water), and kapha (earth and water).
We’re a nation obsessed with youth. Even if you’re not actively trying to look like you did 10 years ago (or even one year ago), chances are you want to at least feel, and possibly think, younger. Who doesn’t?
“There seems to be a point where people realize that their previously youthful bodies—and minds—are changing, and they want to get back to where they were,” says Hilary Garivaltis, Dean of the Kripalu School of Ayurveda. That’s normal. What isn’t normal—or needn’t be—is the notion that aging has to be filled with inevitable aches and pains. “We shouldn’t expect that we’ll get old and decrepit and that our bodies should hurt,” says Hilary. “We don’t need to suffer inordinately. That’s not necessarily the reality of aging.” Not according to Ayurveda, anyway.
The truth is that our bodies do break down as we get older—that’s fact. As the synovial fluid in the joints starts to wear thin, our bodies become more brittle, causing friction and pain. Bones, joints, and organs are more delicate. In Ayurveda, this also means an excess of vata, the dosha that governs movement in the body. Too much vata can mean dry